Tuesday, June 20, 2017

1039. Astanga Yoga, the Eight limbs of Yoga....!

Today is “International Yoga Day” and Yoga is going places and beyond control too. Sage Patanjali might not have imagined that the sutras formulated by him would have so many wings and flutter in such unimaginable directions. In the first place the version of “Yoga” which Maharshi Patanjali has put forth in Patanajala Yoga Sutras is entirely different from what we have understood/ misunderstood.  

Yoga has its roots in Sanskrit word “Yuj” which translate to “Join.”  Now the question is “Join” with what???

Yoga is an ancient science to comprehend the true identity of “Self” and get aligned with it. Here we need to understand that one joining the other or aligning with the other translate to duality, the “Higher Self and Lower self”. The Higher Self is the Chaitanya (Consciousness) present in all of us which is termed “Paramatma” and the lower self is the Manas and Buddhi (Mind and Intellect) index which is termed as Jeevatma.

Yoga guides the Jeevatma to join with the Paramatma by transcending the mind and intellect realm. Maharshi Patanjali gives the eight limbs known as Astaanga for this purpose. They are:
YAMA (the five restraints): This is on how a Jeevi should conduct with society. In this part there is mention of Ahimsa where it is encouraged to develop the attitude of harmlessness to get the feel of universal benevolence. Satya is to adhere to truthfulness, Astheya not to steal, Brahmacharya walk on the path of Brahman, Aparigraha is to stay away from avariciousness. 
NIYAMA (the five observances): This is on how a Jeevi should conduct for his own good. Saucha is maintain purity in the body as well as mind, Santosha to be contented always, Tapas to have self discipline, Svadhyaya is to introspect, Iswara Pranidhana is to surrender to the Cosmic will.

This ten constitute to Yama and Niyama which is the prerequisite to ASANA which are various postures to make the body flexible and agile. Then comes PRANAYAMA the control and expansion of Prana (vital breath) followed by PRATYAHARA which is not just dieting but having control over senses. DHARANA, DHYANA and SAMADHI are concentration, meditation and self realization respectively which sum up to eight limbs.

Today we have lots of Yoga classes where only the ASANA part is taught or a few some might even glance at PRANAYAMA too. I can say without batting my eyelids that none of them ever talk about YAMA & NIYAMA which are most important for the lower self to get aligned with Higher Self. The flexible and agile body can only cater to the fitness of the body but it will never work on the ailments of the mind. Without the practice of YAMA & NIYAMA the DHARANA, DHYANA and SAMADHI is impossible. 

Yoga has now gone global but the worrying factor is it has come back to my country with added attributes to it. There is “Power Yoga” which is similar to aerobic “Hot Yoga” where yoga asana are done in steam and finally “Beer Yoga” yoga under influence of alcohol.

Power Yoga claims to be a vigorous form of doing the Asanas in a stipulated time. Asanas are to be done with grace and without being aware of time. In Hot Yoga there is sauna and steam which has reduced Yoga to spa culture. Beer Yoga is a new fitness trend which allows you to sip beer. I do not know how you can concentrate on the hip while doing Katiaasana when you are let to sip???   

Anyways not being too cynical I wish everyone to be in the pick of heath both in body and mind on this International Yoga Day....! 

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